We are the Haw Trail Crew, and we built the "Washing Machine" trail to showcase our ability to build fun mountain bike trail at Haw Ridge. The community response has been overwhelmingly positive, with a clear, dominating theme ... you want it to be longer! And we completely agree. So we are launching the first, of hopefully many, fundraising initiatives on a project-by-project basis to build awesome trails at Haw Ridge.
Cassie, Steve and Molly standing atop their handy work ... one of the entry berms on the middle section of Washing Machine.This project is "Washing Machine Part 2" where we and the Friends of Haw Ridge will replace the last straight-away section of the trail with a much longer, and feature filled section that will maintain downhill slope, but at a reduced gradient from the present "berm" section of Washing Machine. It is our goal to make this bottom section to be so full of fun features that you'll just want to do laps on it, which will be entirely possible since the existing straight-away will complete a "ride-back-up" loop. Now our ability to built this depends on you. We are seeking funding for materials (wooden features, paver armoring, etc) and mini-excavator time. Read on for more details on the proposed trail, what you get for your money, and other ways you can help.
Some background on trail building at Haw
We are David Green, Steve Meitner, and the Haw Trail Crew, and we think that Haw Ridge has the potential to be one of the most fun mountain biking destinations in the South East. Our initial efforts to make this a reality is the new "Washing Machine" trail. If you've ridden it you'll know that it's not like any other trail at Haw. Here's how it came into existence ...
Brian and David putting cutting trail with rogue hoes after the tiller had been through.
We wanted to design a trail that is so much fun to ride down that you forget how much effort it was to ride up, and after stumbling across the abandoned old double track that was the old K2 north we said to ourselves ... "this could be awesome". So we marked our proposed trail, pretty close to as it stands today, and took our plans to the Friends of Haw Ridge and the City of Oak Ridge. The initial response was understandably hesitant, with Haw having a history of rogue trail builders, and our plans being somewhat "ambitious". But we were given the go ahead, but quickly realized that digging by hand was not practical.
After another round of approvals, we cut most of the trail in just a few days with a mini-excavator and our perspective on trail building had certainly changed. With the right tools, materials and a dedicated group of workers you can build really fun trail, fast! Of course the excavating was only the beginning, with many hand-tuning sessions and even some major re-routes on sections that just didn't ride right. Now we have a new trail that is getting a lot of traffic, and has added to the great selection of trails at Haw. But we are far from finished, and are now working as part of the Friends of Haw Ridge, so expect the trails at Haw to continue improving.
Steve operating the mini-ex to build the biggest of the berms of the middle section of Washing Machine.If you've ridden Washing Machine you'll know there are still 2 long straight-away sections, one at the start and one at the end. Sure, these are great fun to see how fast you can go, but we think they are a waste of vertical gradient that could be used to make the trail much longer. So the Washing Machine Part 2 project will create a new trail that maximizes trail length while maintaining an entirely downhill gradient, i.e., extend the existing trail to provide as long a ride time as possible. This lower section is not as steep as the present middle "berm" section, and this opens up a bunch of options as to what we can build. Mostly, we intend to maintain the fast and flowy nature of the trail, but to add lots of features, with options for your level of riding ability. These "features" will be kept a surprise for now, but think natural wood rides, bridges with challenging exits, natural rock drops, water diverters, and of course more berms. Our plan is to make this section great fun for all riders of intermediate ability and up, so there will be lots of options, e.g., the A line for speed, the B line for fun, and the C line to see how big your balls are, etc. You could think of this as a skills trail, and since it is something that you'll probably want to do laps on, we can use the existing straight-away double track to ride back up providing a lower Washing Machine skills loop. If you want to ride the full trail, ride to the top, if you just want to lap the skills loop, just ride up the lazy double track for the lower loop.
Map of the new trail we are proposing. The yellow is the existing Washing Machine trail, and the blue is this project. The dotted lines are examples of optional feature lines.
This will be another type of trail that does not presently exist at Haw Ridge, so your contributions will go directly to either improving a great local park, and maybe even make it worth your while to drive from South Knoxville ;)
What will you get for your money?
As we mentioned at the beginning, the existing Washing Machine trail was essentially a project to showcase what we and the Haw Trail Crew team are capable of. The crew funded the construction out of their own pockets, and were happy to do so to show the community what could be done at Haw. But now we are hoping that we've demonstrated enough of a capability that the community will help fund Part 2. And if the community likes what we do, we'll continue this approach where we describe a new trail plan, figure out how much it will cost, raise the money, and build it. And we are not talking much money here, $20 from 100 people gets us plenty of trail work.
Steve standing at the entrance to the middle berm section of Washing Machine.
So what else will you get for your donations (in addition to a fantastic new trail)? We have a few perks for those who donate, and while the designs have not been finalized yet, donations of $25 and above will receive a Haw Sponsor koozie, $50 and above will get the Haw Sponsor socks, and we even have a special offer for shop level donations ... $500 or more will get you a "This section of trail is sponsored by ... " sign on the trail itself. We will work with you on the design of the sign, but we only have 2 of these for this project, so your shop or local business may want to act fast!
How much money do we need?
Here is the breakdown ...
A mini-excavator costs about $300 per day, or $1000 per week when you include taxes, insurance, delivery, etc. For example, we spend $700 on mini-excavator time for the existing section of Washing Machine. For this project we intend a similar amount of time, but also, due to the rocky nature of the lower section we will need a rock breaking attachment and we will be stepping up to a slightly larger machine, probably a 3500 lb or 6000 lb. The cost increase for a slightly larger machine is not great, but we found that the 2000 lb machine (the smallest you can get) was under powered for some tasks. So we are budgeting $1200 for machine rental.
A video showing Steve, David and others riding up the entry, and then down some of the sections of Washing Machine.
In addition to the digging, we will be constructing at least 2 bridges and will require pavement armoring of some features (e.g., to prevent braking ruts or deal with water management issues). As an example, the last bridge we built at Haw cost $650, and the pavers recently installed on the South Knoxville trails cost another several hundred dollars. So while it is hard to tell exactly how much material we will need to buy for this project, we foresee it being in the range of $800 for 2 bridges and some armoring pavers.
So that puts us at our $2000 goal. If we don't reach this amount, we still intend to go ahead with the work (in fact it has already started), but if we don't raise enough to cover the mini-ex costs the trail will be quite different, and far less fun in our opinion. So get your wallet out and donate just a few dollars (or more) to making mountain biking in Knoxville more fun! Oh, and share the link to this page with everyone you have ever met ;)
In the happy event we raise more than our goal, we will just put that toward Washing Machine Part 3 - the top section's revenge!
Other ways you can help
If you can't contribute financially, that's OK, we can always use another set of hands on trail days. Join the "Haw Trail Crew" Facebook group and find out when we are going out to dig. Everybody is welcome, all you'll need is a pair of gloves and a can-do attitude!
Another way you can help is to share this campaign with everyone you know that may be interested in helping out, in any way. The more people know about our fundraising efforts, the more awesome trail we can build!